On 6 December 2017, the SDG ambassadors visited UN City to hear more about the organization's sustainable development goals. Photo: Adam Mørk.

Student organization focuses on UN’s development goals

Thursday 05 Apr 18


Marie Louise Møllebæk Pollmann-Larsen
Project Manager
Office for Innovation and Sector Services
+45 61 65 56 69
A group of DTU students is raising awareness of the UN’s 17 goals for worldwide sustainable development.

In 2015, the UN formulated the so-called Sustainable Development Goals—17 extremely ambitious goals which commit all member countries to ending poverty and hunger, reducing inequalities, providing good education, better health, and decent jobs for everyone by 2030—and generally working towards sustainable growth.

Many of the goals have a direct link to engineering. Goal number seven, for example, states that everyone should have access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy. It therefore makes really good sense for DTU researchers and students to be familiar with these goals and to be able to relate their activities to them. However, even though many people are keen to promote sustainable development, far from all are familiar with the UN goals. The student organization SDG Ambassadors intends to remedy this situation.

Their work got underway in October last year with a kick-off meeting which, among other things, focused on how to actively promote the SDG agenda. For example, an entrepreneur spoke about some temporary housing for refugees, which he has developed while studying.

Photo: Line Sigh

Not without agenda
Laura Astier—an exchange student from France—volunteered as an ambassador as soon as she arrived at DTU in the autumn semester. Although she has a strong desire to live sustainably and work with sustainable development, she was unaware of the SDG goals.

“SDG is an excellent working framework. The goals are inspiring, and I think it’s important that as many people as possible know about them,” she says.

“The good thing is that they address a global agenda—they are interrelated and can be of relevance for all trade groups—not just engineers. We therefore want to raise awareness among DTU students from all disciplines. We also have a couple of CBS students in the ambassador corps network and we will try to spread the initiative to the University of Copenhagen—and perhaps eventually to all universities in Denmark.”

‘Not without agenda’ is the motto of the ambassador corps—i.e. ‘not without the UN’s 2030 Agenda’. The first tangible initiative is a campaign encouraging all students to sign a petition agreeing to keep the UN’s sustainability goals and agenda in mind—in their courses, projects, and in their future work.

The petition was launched in week eight. The petition is open to all students in Denmark, and in addition to creating awareness about the SDG goals, the ambassadors hope to collect enough signatures to send a powerful signal to the students’ future employers—one that clearly states that their future employees are committed to sustainability.

The campaign has its own website with a link to the petition—something the SDG ambassadors made future students aware of at the Open Day event on 1 March.

The ambassador corps network expects to organize a major event every semester, and naturally, it maintains a Facebook presence in the hope that the initiative will spread like wildfire. Currently, the group numbers 15 active members—all with different backgrounds and nationalities. But there is always room for more members who are willing to involve students in the 17 goals for global sustainable development.

Skylab supports
DTU Skylab has helped to establish the SDG ambassador corps network and organize the first events. Marie Louise Møllebaek Pollmann-Larsen—Project Manager at the Office for Innovation and Sector Services—is pleased to note an overwhelming interest among the students to familiarize themselves with the SDG goals and she is convinced that the ambassadors will discover new ways of getting the message across.

“The SDG goals are relevant to many fields of engineering, and it is interesting to see that there is an equal gender distribution in the corps. We look forward to following and supporting its initiatives.”

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